Communications technology developer Metamagnetics Inc. is planning an expansion that will cost more than $1.5 million and create manufacturing space as the company pursues products aimed at the military.
The privately held business briefed U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, on Friday at its offices and asked for his help as it seeks defense department money to support its growth. Metamagnetics officials said they are committed to keeping their work in the United States and working with U.S. suppliers.
“We're working very hard to pull all aspects of manufacturing in-house,” said Vincent G. Harris, founder and chairman of Metamagnetics. “Our brand is U.S. supply. We're not going overseas. We're not even going to Canada.”
Metamagnetics is developing radio frequency and microwave components that could be used on military ships, helicopters and other installations to improve the sending and receipt of communications signals. The company spun out from Mr. Harris' research at Northeastern University in Boston.
Expansion plans call for the company, now in an 11,000-square-foot space, to add about 9,000 square feet. Manufacturing operations will require stringently controlled “clean room” facilities, according to President Anton Geiler. Employment, now 22 people, could jump to 36 people.
Mr. Geiler told Mr. McGovern that the company expects to obtain a defense department manufacturing technology program contract in mid-2020. Also known as “ManTech,” the program aims to invest in manufacturing critical to the military.
But Metamagnetics technology could also be applied to civilian industries, such as improving communication at airports, officials said.
Mr. McGovern, who became chairman of the powerful rules committee when Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, said he was thrilled that Metamagnetics wants to manufacture in Massachusetts. “We usually do the research and development (in Massachusetts),” Mr. McGovern said. “You've got to do the manufacturing here, too. I think that's a big deal.”
One challenge for the company, Mr. Geiler said, involves finding qualified employees who can work with ceramics. The company's work force includes material scientists and engineers. It hopes to attract a technical high school partner to begin training students in some of the skills that interns or co-op students might need, according to Mr. Geiler.
“There's at the moment no educational institutions in the state that have a ceramics machining program ... We would like to resurrect it as much as possible,” Mr. Geiler said. “We need it here.”